Death, Swords and Other Things

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Hello, it has been quite a while since I last updated this blog, but a lot has happened since last year and I feel like I should simply muse a bit on the past few weeks.

When I last left you Christmas was upon us and I left with my girlfriend to spend it with my fathers side of the family. We ate, drank and were generally merry, if low key in our celebrations. I find that as we get older having lots of presents and loud music changes to wanting a peaceful few days with the family and good food and drink.

After we returned home there was new year (both Chinese and “traditional”) and then we returned to business as usual. I got back to my new job and she continued her studies in the university. In fact we became so busy that we barely noticed the month and a half pass before our eyes and it wasn’t until Valentines day that we’ve had a bit of time to relax.

However approximately a weak ago I got a call from my uncle that my aunt had died and have since been dealing with that. The funeral is set to take place soon and I hope that the family… and I can get over it. She wouldn’t have wanted us to grieve for too long.

Since then I’ve begun considering new hobbies… mainly the European School of Swordsmanship ran by Guy Windsor or other similar ones in Helsinki. The hobby seems interesting and would give me a reason to exercise a bit more.

Did you guys have any interesting experiences during the holiday season, or thoughts on a hobby of choice?

Winter Insanity, Problems with Feet and lots and lots of Excuses

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Hello folks, I figured I’d give you a quick update (and a list of excuses!) on what I’ve been doing for the past … month or so and why I haven’t updated my blog. Admittedly everyone probably knows why one wouldn’t post during Christmas and New Years, but my silence has been prolonged enough!

I actually got a job during December and hence have had a lot less time to write down my musings here, but I figure now that life is settling down to comfortable routine again, I’ll be able to write things. My silence for the past week or so I can attribute to having minor surgery done on my foot, but now that the bandages and painkillers are gone I no longer have an excuse to shirk.

Going to get to writing in the next few days!

Look forward to it!

Indie Revolution: Star Citizen

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Star Citizen by Roberts Space Industries

For my second Indie Revolution I decided to tell you guys a little about Star Citizen, a game under development by the legendary Chris Roberts, a man known for such classics as the Wing Commander Series, Privateer and Freelancer. As expected from the man himself, the game is going to be a space trading and combat simulator set in the 30th century where the players (you heard me!) are able to forge their own destinies in a persistent universe. The game shares many similarities with EVE Online, but to me it seems that Star Citizen will be a bit more hands on and will include planetary exploration and combat without having to own a Playstation 3.

The game itself has been crowd funded from the start, having begin it’s odyssey on Kickstarter where it managed to raise over six million dollars before the campaign ended… but it did not stop the crowdfunding from continuing. The support for the game continued on the games own website where it continues to grow almost daily.

With around 35 million dollars as a budget for the game, and a team that seems to love doing what they are doing I’ve real hopes that Star Citizen will be able to deliver a big enough bang for me to leave EVE Online for good and migrate to a new world where to explore, trade and… aww, hell… we all know it’s coming.

EXPLORE, EXPAND, EXPLOIT & EXTERMINATE!

The game might not be a 4X game, but I do believe with large enough player empires it can result in similar amounts of epic spacebattles as vast armadas clash and backroom politics come to fore. I for one am looking forward to it!

This is Olli, signing off for now… and logging into Tranquility.

TV-Drama: Doctor Who 2013 Christmas Special

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Doctor Who

Yesterday, after a long and hard Christmas I finally had a chance to sit down and enjoy the latest episode of Doctor Who. As I sat down and started the Christmas special I felt… sad. Matt Smith might not have been my favorite Doctor, but after years of following the man I still was feeling a bit down at the idea of him disappearing for good. I can distinctly remember how David Tennant’s transformation affected me… namely almost putting me off the whole series for good, and I wasn’t looking forward to the regeneration.

Little did I know that by the end of the special I wouldn’t be sad, nor would I be angry or any other extreme of emotion that I’ve grown used to getting from watching Doctor Who… I didn’t even feel hollow. My entire reaction when the 11th Doctor Regenerated into the 12th, and everything up till then was a resounding… “Meh.”

I don’t know if it was simply me, but for some reason I could not for the life of me find anything special about this regeneration. Sure, there was enough fireworks, but I didn’t feel the same rush I did when the 10th Doctor spoke his last words: “I don’t want to go…” For me that is the worst thing of all. I’ve grown so used to DW serving my appetite for emotions that not getting any from what is supposed to be Matt Smith’s grand finale is unforgivable.

Well… the episode might not have been for me, but lets hope that in a few months the new Doctor can bring us back to the edge of our seats, eh?

This is Olli, signing off.

Indie Revolution: The Mandate

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The Mandate by Perihelion Interactive.

Upon reading my last post and the comments by Biahelvetti, I decided that I might make this into a thing for this blog. I will introduce games that I’ve Pledged or find interesting on Kickstarter or similar sites. Support the revolution and hope that you find it interesting as well and support what I support!

The first in this series will be the Mandate; a strategy role-playing game by Perihelion Interactive. The game begins roughly a thousand years into the future with the player as a disgraced Mandate Captain released from their prison sentence due to the Grand Fleet having been cast adrift by rebellious elements within the Empire. Given the scepter of the Empress and a ship, it is your task to gather the remnants of the Grand Fleet and save the young Empress from certain destruction… or then join the rebels and oust the feudal principles of the Empire… or become a pirate and sack things for the hell of it. Do you see where I am going with this? Story with lots of choices, some expected… some less so.

The game itself is not even in alpha stage yet, but Perihelion is making regular updates on the games site and letting us know their plans and progress. So far the most impressive tidbits have been the fact that you will not just control a ship, but rather its crew, placing specialists and different locations to achieve results, and defending the ship from boarders with your marines.

As you become more and more powerful you may end up commanding a fleet of ships, making the combat increasingly strategic and giving a good old fashioned epic scifi feel. I for one am very excited about this game and am hoping that everyone will give it as much support as they are able (and desire to!) so that we can have a fantastic experience.

Whilst the Kickstarter Campaign has ended long ago, one can still make pledges with PayPal on the games website.

Have a good one everyone. Next post will be either about the Star Citizen, or then the Serpents Tongue…Look forward to it.

Kickstarter, the Mandate, Project Eternity

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The Mandate by Perihelion Interactive

“One Rule, no Quarter” states the Mandate homepage proudly showing off a game. A game fully funded by the players themselves over Kickstarter and PayPal. I too have proudly decided to show my allegiance. An allegiance not to the faceless corporations that publish games like FIFA Five million or NHL L33t Haxxor, but rather to these companies that are making interesting and amazing games that are fully funded by the players and designers. People who actually love games.

A new page is unfolding in the history of games. Decades ago when games were simple things ran on even simpler machines, most games were published straight from the creators garage and bought by a set of loyal fans. As times went on however games like movies and TV shows before them became an outlet for mass marketing and the quality declined. People no longer made good games because they wanted to play them, but they made crappy games that they thought would sell enough to increase their profit margins. Something was lost, but now it is being reclaimed. Games are again being made by people who actually play them, not simply people who have a business decree.

Project Eternity by Obsidian Entertainment

Games like the Mandate and Project Eternity represent an ideal that I can totally get behind: games funded by the players whom want them. Imagine that? Designers whom actually want to make the game they are designing rather than it simply being another tired Call of Duty clone, and players whom fund it if they desire to play it. All we have to do is vote with our wallets as we did before, with none of those middle-men in between us and our games.

Personally I was too late to support Project Eternity, but I’ve pledged what money I could for the Mandate and am hopeful that when these games come out they will signal an end to companies like Electronic Arts and Ubisoft. Companies that are deciding what kinds of games we want and should play.

Hail to the glorious revolution! Let us see where this takes us.

Independence and DEATH

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Today is a notable day for two reasons. Firstly it is the independence day of my homeland of Finland, and secondly Nelson Mandela died last night. Whilst I did spend some time in South Africa last year and my mother and step-father have an invitation to his funeral I cannot claim to know much of the man… well not much beyond everything learned from a museum trip and school lessons.

Whilst Mandela’s death has indeed been noted today, the day is really about Independence for us Finns, and that shows. The day has been filled with marches, fine dinners and prayers in the many churches and faiths of the land. The day for me has been filled with time spent with my family amidst the snowy December darkness. We ate, we drunk and watched the latest president shake hands with a lot of people. All in all it has been a nice day and tomorrow it is time to make peppermint cookies!

…I wonder if those cookies will survive the day. They may face a tragic accident between the oven and the storage. You never know right?

Role-playing and how to get into it?

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Hello folks, today I thought I’d do an update on my favourite past time and hobby: namely Role-playing games. Not the naughty kind (though I do like those too!), but the kind you play with your friends during a Saturday night with pizza and soda on the side. It can be quite therapeutic and a great way to pass the time.

Now there’s been a lot of backlash on RPG’s mostly due to an overblown story about players being satanists in the 80s after some fundamentalist noticed that their sons gaming books had… TEH DEHVUL on its cover. It only went downhill from there with a few comics, but I won’t get into that today. Today my topic is on how to get started with the hobby.

Here are the things you need:

  • Friends.
  • Dice.
  • Pen and paper.
  • A rulebook.

A pretty short list, and everything can be gotten from your nearest gaming store. Friends too probably if you are a nice enough guy that showers daily and aren’t afraid to get into a conversation with strangers looking at the same bookshelf you are. A good thing to remember with gamers is the same rule that applies to animals: They are probably more afraid of you than you are of them! Hence as long as you’ve got the confidence to talk to them and make your case you should be okay. Don’t be discouraged if you get turned down a few times as gamers are also very pack oriented and unlikely to want new players into established groups or games. Eventually you will get lucky though.

From there the rest is all about learning your system of choice. Dungeons&Dragons is the number one favourite of all time for most, whilst others swear by World of Darkness or even some less known systems. Whatever system it is you choose, you’ve quite an adventure ahead of you.

Good luck!

Our Last Best Hopes

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…For good television have died. A pretty blunt statement, eh? Just wait till I get to ranting about it.

Before I truly begin I should explain my tastes in television a bit. I’m an ardent scifi and fantasy fanboy and my tastes in television are such. Growing up I watched the “greats” running episode by episode and got caught up in two particular series: Babylon 5 and Stargate SG-1. Despite my young age I already knew enough to abhor Star Trek. No offense to any trekkies reading this, but I simply couldn’t take the show seriously and the complete rip-off that was DS9 killed any interest I might’ve ever gathered in the franchise.

Now Babylon 5 and Stargate SG-1 both had a good run. Babylon 5 was even picked up for an extra season, but I won’t get into the BETRAYAL that was season 5 in this post; and SG-1 ran for a full ten seasons with a splash of movies and no less than two spin-offs. Around the time that Babylon 5 finished and Stargate Atlantis began I got hooked on… well you know what. Only the greatest scifi series of all time… namely Firefly by Joss Wheadon.

Guess what happened to all the potential shows I could watch? Firefly, Babylon 5: The Crusade and BOTH of the Stargate spin-offs turned out either cancelled or pretty damned boring. Not only did this make me sad, but it left only one proper scifi show on tv… and that was Battlestar Galactica. A show I, and many others began to dislike immensely after approximately three seasons of the same special effects and insane developments. Still, I kept watching. What else could I do? It’s not like there was anything better on right?

I watched Battlestar Galactica all the way to its disappointing and highly confusing ending in 2009 and found myself wandering the dark and lonely paths of the interwebs. Most English language shows come into Finland with approximately a year or two delay if we’re lucky and the less is said about Finnish television the better.

I was ready to give up on TV all together, but then I discovered a series which I probably should’ve taken seriously years before. After a Legend of the Seeker binge I noticed an old Doctor Who rerun going on and decided to watch it. I needed only to watch a single episode to know what to do.

The next day I entered my local gaming/entertainment store and bought all five seasons of the New Doctor Who and consumed them in only a few weeks. After that I did my best to get my hands on the older Doctors, but had little luck… and then settled down to watch Matt Smith as the new Doctor. Again I was disappointed. I had gotten so attached to David Tennant as the Doctor that I had forgotten the old DW fan maxim: There are no “better” Doctors. They are all the same character. 

Try as I might though I couldn’t get a good first impression of the man. His face looked strange, his voice annoying and the fact that he liked to hang around little girls a tad… worrisome. However I was determined not to be left behind and watched the series until the season finale and was hooked once again.

Life has been good for the past few years, at least in the TV department. I’ve had Doctor Who, Game of Thrones, Castle, Warehouse 13, Supernatural and Eureka to watch, and a few weeks ago the premiere of Almost Human got me hooked as well. Right now I do indeed have hopes for the future of good television fiction, but I have fears as well. I fear that many of these great shows will be cancelled and leave me and many others hanging once again.

So here in front of all you witnesses I fall on my knees in front of every producer ever. PLEASE DON’T TAKE OUR SHOWS AWAY FROM US!

This is Olli, about to eat dinner. Have a good evening everyone.

The Brief History of Finland

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For my first actual content post I figured I’d tell you a bit about my homeland of Finland. The country is not that well known outside of the Nordic area and outside of Europe it is practically unheard of. Do note the usage of the word “Nordic” rather than “Scandinavian”. This is due to the fact that whilst Finns have had a long and in-depth relationship with the politics of the Norse peoples, mainly due to having been a part of the Kingdom of Sweden for over 800 years, the Finns were never Scandinavian. Finns belong to their own linguistic and cultural group that are the Finno-Ugrics, consisting of the Finnic group (Finns, Estonians, Karelians, Livonians and a few others) and the Ugric group (mostly compromised of the Hungarians) forever separating them from their closest neighbors.

The name “Finland” originates from one of two sources… or possibly both. The earliest reference to a possible “Fenni” was by Tacitus’ Germania , but it is unlikely that these were the Finns of Finland proper. The far more solid reference can be found in two Runestones in Sweden. The one in Söderby mentions finlont whilst the one in Gotland mentions finlandi. Pretty close approximation to the south-western tribes name in Swedish. But what is this about tribes?

Prior to the Swedish conquest between 1150 and 1200, the area that we now know as Finland was ruled over by a number of tribes. We don’t know much about them due to the lack of any records from them, but we do know that there were three dominant tribes. The Suomalaiset (Finns) around modern day Turku and Finland-Proper, the Hämäläiset (Tavastians) whom controlled much of Central Finland and the Karjalaiset (Karelians) whom ruled over the eastern stretches all the way to the Ice Sea. However as the growing powers to the east and west (The Republic of Novgorod and the Kingdom of Sweden) consumed these lands these tribes became less and less similar, adopting customs and linguistic traits from their conquerors. For the sake of clarity I will focus on the western half, namely the former domain of Finns and Tavastians since that’s where I am from.

For the next 800 years, the area known as Österland (Eastern land) became a traditional area of Sweden, and became inseparable from the normal feudal lifestyle of Western Europe. Certainly, the Finnish peasant had more rights than the serfs in most parts of Europe, but it was no more or less than their Swedish counterparts. It is during this time that the foreign usage of the word “Finn” became less and less likely to be heard since Finns became Swedes by virtue of being subjects of the Crown. The next notable event in Finland proper would take centuries.

Indeed, four centuries. At that time King John III of Sweden desired to add more titles into his royal introduction, and created the position of Grand Duke of Finland (Storfurste av Finland). The title might’ve been Grand Prince, but the title didn’t become popular until the Russian rule three centuries later. For the next three centuries continued to fight alongside their Swedish counterparts during the period that is now known as the “Swedish Empire” which is a misnomer as at no point in their history was it referred to as such in Sweden. In Sweden it was known as the Stormaktstiden literately “Great Power Era”. Finnish cavalry became especially favoured by some of the Swedish monarchs (such as Gustavus Adolphus) mostly due to the fact that whilst Finnish horses were smaller than the destriers used by most other western nations, they were still far more capable than the small… practically pony like horses raised in Sweden proper.

The next change would happen in 1809 when the Kingdom of Sweden lost the Finnish War and Finland became an autonomous Grand Principality within the Russian Empire. The wording and actual interpretation of the papers written during the paper can be said to leave an impression that this was the beginning of an Independent Finland, only one under personal union under Russia, but that is more than likely just speculation and fantasy.

After the fall of the Russian Empire and rise of Soviet Russia, Finland declared independence on the 6th of December 1917. The form of government was parlayed for a while, with monarchist, communists and conservatives debating the merits and flaws on and off the battlefield (see the Civil War of 1917), but in the end Finland chose to embrace a democracy, setting it on the path it is today. The more recent events should be well known enough for me not have to mention them, but I will if people show interest in either earlier events (the possibility of a Kingdom of Finland in 1742 AND 1918) or the events after independence, such as the Winter and Continuation wars.

This is Olli, signing off.